The Blessing of a Simple Gift

September 12, 2012 • Lebanon
Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts transform the lives of children in Lebanon

A girl accepts Christ and becomes an advocate for Jesus after receiving an Operation Christmas Child shoe box in Lebanon

Sometimes a life-changing present can come in the size of a shoe box. For Sabah*, that’s exactly what happened when she was six and received a gift from Operation Christmas Child.

In the war-torn country of Lebanon, gifts can be hard to come by, especially for poorer families like Sabah’s. But the day wasn’t just about receiving toys and necessities. The people who presented the boxes made sure that the children understood why they were receiving them, that Christians give gifts to represent the love that God showed in giving His Son, Jesus Christ.

At that point, Jesus became more than just a prophet to Sabah.

“Before I received the shoe box, the people who gave it to me taught us some songs about Jesus and they taught us about Jesus,” Sabah said. “Before I received the gift of the shoe box, I knew that Jesus was the creator of this world, and I also knew that He came to save us. I knew that Jesus did not stay dead. He was risen, and He is still living with us now.”

There is no church close to the tiny concrete building where Sabah lives, so her options for spiritual growth were limited. When a man named Jaffar* told her about a Christian club for children not far from her home, she became excited.

Jaffar and some other adults took turns driving Sabah and other neighborhood children to the club. It’s in an apartment building that is partially under renovation. Up several flights of stairs and through a set of dark, wooden doors, Sabah found a group of children singing and doing crafts. At first she was quiet, but soon she joined the fun.

“Soon we could see how she started loving Jesus, and she started inviting her family,” Jaffar said. “After a few weeks she brought two others, and now she comes with five or six others from her family.”

Sabah and her friends have a good relationship with Christ. Sabah is an encourager in her group, and she strongly believes in the power of prayer. Each day she gathers with her best friend and prays protection over her friend group and the country. Even at a young age, she has a big vision for her nation.

“In Lebanon, we have lots of conflicts going on in separate areas, and I get sad when I see people around me fighting and not loving one another,” she said. “And I hope that one day Lebanon will have peace and people will love one another again.”

With her passion for the Gospel, Sabah could lead a Christ-centered movement for change. In the four years that she’s attended the club, she has grown from a quiet student into a teacher.

One day when Jaffar was driving her and her cousins to the children’s club, he started to sing about being unique and special. From the back of the van, Sabah spoke up.

“She said, ‘Uncle Jaffar, He loves you anyway; you don’t need to be special or unique. He just loves you.’ And my heart started beating fast,” Jaffar said. “Wow, she’s teaching me now. She got the truth in her heart. And I was so excited.”

At 12 years old, Sabah is not only teaching her friends about Christ, she’s also telling her teachers and older family members about Him. Jaffar hopes that one day she will work with her in the children’s club.

Through a small, plastic box that included a coloring book and other toys that Sabah described as beautiful, a child’s life was changed forever. Now, she walks in truth with Christ in a country where teaching children about Jesus can be difficult.

“I’m so thankful,” Jaffar said. “These gifts have been a blessing for us, for Lebanon. Through the Operation Christmas Child gift, we have amazing opportunities to go to schools and reach many kids. I want to say thank you to Operation Christmas Child. Through you, many doors have been opened for us.”

*Names have been changed for safety.